Costa Rica Establishes National Police Academy

The academy provides training, instruction, and specialization to national public security forces, focusing on human rights.
Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo | 31 October 2018

Costa Rica launches the National Police Academy with its own regulatory body to train and provide specialized skills to security forces assigned to the presidency and sell services to the public and private sectors. (Photo: Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security)

Costa Rica passed a law in June 2018 to transform the National Police School into the Francisco José Orlich Bolmarcich National Police Academy to train national Public Security forces with a special emphasis on human rights. Four processes characterize its educational development: instruction, training, specialization, and research.

“The transformation entails strengthening what already existed,” Public Force Commander Guillermo Valenciano, academic chief of the Costa Rican National Police Academy, told Diálogo. “Now [the law] brings forth the character of the new police institution as the country’s leading organization for police education.”

Thanks to international cooperation agreements, the academy carries on with U.S. strategic cooperation in the police training of Costa Rican Public Force officers. Costa Rica and the United States are long-term strategic partners in a variety of academic and security activities.

“We are developing academic process rules, improving our curriculum, adapting it to the real world, and [taking] a quantitative and qualitative leap in these processes,” Public Force Commissioner Eric Lacayo Rojas, director of the Costa Rican National Police Academy, told Diálogo. “Our projection is for six months [December 2018] to create the rules.”

Comm. Lacayo said the curriculum would be based on a democratic, civil approach with respect to the guarantees, norms, and defense of human rights. Plans also include preventive security endorsed by the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Education.

Collaboration between the Costa Rican and U.S. governments improved conditions of the academy’s Murciélago Police Training Center, with refurbished shooting ranges, the purchase of equipment, and a new instructor lounge and armory. Improvements resulted in increased capabilities for specialized academic courses.

“Thanks to security cooperation, we exchange and build knowledge through instruction and training in different areas, not only with the U.S. government, but also with the Colombian National Police, each from their own experience,” Comm. Lacayo said. “Everything plays a part for better prepared security forces to fulfill their missions and confront current criminal threats. We try to anticipate criminal actions through instruction processes.”

The new Costa Rican National Police Academy strengthens security forces’ operations, with standardized procedures. (Photo: Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security)

The academy’s comprehensive work will favor the creation of agreements and accords with public and private institutions and universities at the national and international level, linked to police training, instruction, and specialization; instructor and expert exchanges; and joint program development. The institution will also offer a range of security services to public and private entities. It will authorize and supervise public and private agencies that teach private security courses required by law. 

Investigation for security

The police academy promotes academic research on citizen security and public order, among its other functions. “To establish research as an academic tool is like practicing lessons learned based on research,” Cmdr. Valenciano said.

“Security forces work separately and don’t have the same procedures,” Comm. Lacayo added. “The academy will standardize policies and procedures to improve the training of security institutions in the country.”​​​​​​​ 

Steady flow of revisions

The Costa Rican Public Force prepares and trains nonstop to prevent crimes, reduce crime rates, and increase the security of the population. “It’s important to keep the force up to date to maintain skills and capabilities in top shape and fulfill duties efficiently and successfully,” Comm. Lacayo said.

The United States supports Costa Rican police officers with training and instruction, and assists the Ministry of Public Security through information exchange and strategic equipment donations to strengthen response capabilities of the Central American country’s security forces in land, sea, and air surveillance. In recent years, the United States assisted Costa Rica with riverine and interceptor patrol vessels, cargo aircraft and helicopters; armored vehicles; computing equipment; and virtual shooting ranges.

“We count on a large umbrella to guarantee instruction processes. Integrating police training in our country is a priority for the Costa Rican government and Ministry of Public Security,” Comm. Lacayo concluded.

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